Columbus Falling Merchandise Lawyers
Many of us have shopped at a store with merchandise stacked up in large, towering shelving that often stand dozens of feet above the floor. While stacking merchandise this way is often convenient and cost-effective for these stores, (it eliminates the need for additional square-footage for storage) it poses a serious risk to the unsuspecting patrons shopping below. If boxes and other merchandise are not situated properly—tied down to the shelving and shrink wrapped together) on the towering shelving, the store’s patrons are at risk.
Unlike many other personal injury claims, there is not a system mandated by the government to collect information on consumer accidents, which means that the exact number of falling merchandise injuries is unknown. However, there have been hundreds of articles, news stories, and extensive litigation on this topic, lending some reasonable estimates on the prevalence of these types of injuries. The attorneys at Rinehardt Law Firm are familiar with the merchandising practices at many large stores, and have experience litigating these types of claims. Contact us at (419) 529-2020 or online for a free consultation.
Dangers of Falling Merchandise
A research study by the Roderick Retail Safety Institute in 2009 estimated that as many as 750,000 customer accidents happen annually in the United States. However, the number of accidents due to falling merchandise is more difficult to determine.
There have been many people crushed by large pallets or other objects falling from the towering shelving inside some large department and warehouse stores. Their injuries are not only from the heavy objects falling, but also by the velocity that lends force to an item as it falls, making even a small item incredibly dangerous. For example, an eight-pound object dropped only four feet will have the “weight” of a 400-pound stationary object. In most cases, the merchandise falls from 20 feet or more and weighs upwards of 50 pounds, such as furniture, ladders, paint, boxes, and bathtubs. The biggest danger in these accidents is that unfortunately, the item is most likely to strike the victim in the head due to the circumstances surrounding the accidents, and when even a small object lands on such a fragile part of the body, it is extremely likely that the victim will sustain a lasting, serious injury; such as traumatic brain injuries, paralysis, fractured bones, crush injuries, and death.
Who is at fault when falling merchandise hurts customers?
Businesses have a duty to provide a safe environment for their customers and employees. Falling merchandise is a clear case of what we would consider a premise liability issue. By failing to properly secure the merchandise, the business is not taking the proper steps to ensure that those in the store are protected from possible injury. In most cases, the business can be held liable for injuries to cover medical expenses and lost wages.
Sometimes, employees are simply unaware of proper stacking methods, or stack items while customers are present, creating a hazardous environment. Employers can help protect both themselves and their customers if they took the time to properly train each employee on proper safety measures needed to stack merchandise.
Because falling merchandise is a form of negligence, the elements are similar:
- The store owner owed a duty to the customer
- The store owner breached the duty
- The breach of duty caused an accident
- The accident caused injures to the customer
All four of these elements must occur in order to file a personal injury lawsuit based on negligence. If an item fell off a shelf and hit you, but did not cause any injuries, you will not likely have a valid claim.
If you were injured by falling items while you were in a store or business, you may be able to hold the company liable for your injures and recover compensation for the damages you suffered. We realize that no two cases are alike—each has different circumstances, which means that it is best for you begin to take legal action by contacting the Columbus premises liability attorneys of Rinehardt Law Firm today to evaluate your case and determine your rights to compensation.
Rinehardt Law Firm is the answer to your personal injury. Our team of attorneys and case managers have represented clients in in Columbus and throughout central and north central Ohio for years. We treat every new client as if they were part of our family by providing clear communication, building a strong relationship, and using our experience to provide legal guidance that’s in their best interests. We offer free consultations with no obligation, so don’t hesitate to contact our team about your legal matter.